The amiable, hardworking star of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Stevie Wonder Experience,” John-Mark McGaha, suffered vocal problems from the start that knocked him slightly off his top game. McGaha may have fallen victim to one of the viruses coursing through the country, and McGaha deserves some show-must-go-on kudos for soldiering on. Still, it muted the experience of the “Experience.”
And, then, too, the sound design opening night was troubled. McGaha was over-mic’d part of the time and under-mic’d at others; the drums were overpowering. The show’s whole ensemble—including its great small brass section–overflows with talent, but the covers of Wonder’s songs were off to a weak start. They lacked the superb imitation that makes killer tribute shows wow with illusion. Neither did they deliver Wonder’s wonders in a worthy new light. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” faltered at the start and the potential for magic to follow suffered, too.
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Stevie Wonder Experience,” presented by Artists Lounge Live at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 North Southport, (773)360-7365, mercurytheaterchicago.com. Through March 12.